Wellington: Only nine of 63 whales which beached themselves in a northern New Zealand bay survived, rescuers said Sunday.
Although 13 whales were refloated Saturday, a day after they were found stranded in the sand, four were unable to make their way out to sea and had to be put down.
"It`s been tough but we`re glad nine have survived," Kimberley Mulcaster of the Project Jonah organisation said.
The whales are believed to have been stranded on a remote beach on Thursday and most had died before they were discovered a day later.
The decision to put down the four was taken "as there was concern that if these whales remained in the water they would attract the others back to shore", Department of Conservation spokeswoman Carolyn Smith said.
"On a positive note, the remaining nine were spotted swimming strongly and steadily back out to sea."